U.S. Easing Travel Curbs; India to Export Vaccines: Virus Update

The U.S. will soon allow entry to most air travelers fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Some details of the new program — which replaces bans on travelers from China, India, South Africa, the U.K., Europe and Brazil — remain unclear. 

India said it will resume exports of vaccines for the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative starting in October. Indonesia will allow inoculated non-essential workers back to the office, limiting capacity to 25%. Singapore is monitoring intensive care facilities amid rising cases. 

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE said their vaccine was safe and produced strong antibody responses in children ages 5 to 11 in a large-scale trial. The shot could be available for kids in the U.S. before the end of next month, Anthony Fauci said.

Brazilian UN Delegate Tests Positive (4:30 a.m. HK)

A member of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s delegation to the United Nations was put in isolation after testing positive in New York, adding to concerns that the general assembly this week could trigger a spike in cases in the host city.

The diplomat, part of a mission that preceded Bolsonaro’s arrival, had tested negative before leaving Brazil, according to a person familiar with the situation at the Brazilian foreign ministry. The person, who requested anonymity and isn’t authorized to discuss the matter in public, said the diplomat didn’t have contact with the president — who has refused to get a Covid shot, saying he still has antibodies from a previous infection last year.

Brazil’s foreign ministry is now tracking dozens of people with whom the person has been in touch in New York, the Brazilian press reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

Fauci Sees Kid Vaccine Available by Oct. 31 (4 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said that a vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 will likely be available before Halloween.

“There’s a really good chance it will be” available before the Oct. 31 holiday, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, said during an interview on MSNBC. He also said he would be in favor of schools mandating shots for kids once the jabs are fully approved.

Fauci’s comments came after Pfizer and BioNTech said their shot safely produced strong antibody responses in younger children. 

Nebraska Resumes Covid Dashboard (4 p.m. NY)

Nebraska is re-activating an online dashboard tracking cases amid an increase in hospitalizations, the Omaha World-Herald reported Monday. 

Republican Governor Pete Ricketts had been criticized by the medical community for closing the site when the state’s emergency declaration expired in June, with critics saying the data is vital to stopping the pandemic, according to the newspaper.

D.C. Schools Mandate Shots for Adults, Athletes (2:35 p.m. NY)

The U.S. capital will require vaccines for all adults who regularly enter schools and child-care facilities by Nov. 1, according to Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. There will be no testing opt-out. Student athletes 12 and older will also required to get the shots to participate in school-based sports.

U.S. to Open Air Travel to Most Vaccinated Foreigners (11:30 a.m. NY)

The U.S. will soon allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they’re fully vaccinated — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who haven’t gotten shots.

The measures announced Monday by the White House and celebrated by the airline industry widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who will see restrictions relaxed — and the unvaccinated. 

NYC Moves to Weekly School Testing (10:40 a.m. NY)

New York City will increase its frequency of student testing to once a week instead of its current two-week interval, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The city’s powerful teachers union on Sunday called for weekly testing.

The union demand came after the city was forced to shut down P.S. 79, a special education school in Manhattan. All of the positive cases were among staff members, city officials said Friday, with 16 confirmed cases as of Sept. 16. Citywide, 77 classrooms were closed and 60 more were partially closed, according to the city Education Department. Since schools opened Sept. 13, 445 classrooms have been closed.  

Pfizer Shot Bolsters Antibodies in Younger Kids (7:17 a.m. NY)

Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was safe and produced strong antibody responses in children ages 5 to 11 in a large-scale trial, findings that could pave the way to begin vaccinating grade-school kids within months.

Pressure to immunize kids has been on the climb in the U.S., where a new school year has started just as the delta variant is fueling a surge in cases.

In a trial with 2,268 participants, two shots of a 10 microgram dose — one-third the adult shot — produced antibody levels comparable to those seen in a trial of 16-to-25-year-olds who got the adult dose, the companies said, with similar side effects.

India to Resume Vaccine Exports (7:09 a.m. NY)

India will restart exports of vaccines for the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative from the quarter beginning October, even as it races to inoculate its own massive adult population, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Monday. The country will also resume some vaccine donations, he added, but gave no details.

Home to the world’s largest vaccine-manufacturing industry, India had been expected to be a significant supplier to the equitable vaccine initiative on which most of the world’s poor countries rely. But the government halted exports in April after the delta variant began sweeping through its major cities. 

Indonesia Eases Curbs as Cases Fall (6:20 a.m. NY)

Indonesia said it will allow workers in non-essential business sectors back in the office as it loosens mobility curbs further. 

The country added 1,932 cases on Monday, the lowest since Aug. 24 last year, and 166 new fatalities, according to health ministry data.

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